Pode people: Nobody NoZe …

Some journalists really enjoy writing in first-person voice. I am not one of them.

Yes, I know that the previous sentence began with the word “I.” We are almost seven-years into the life of GetReligion and, obviously, I have had to get a lot more comfortable with first-person work.

Blogging does not have to be first-person, all-commentary based work, but much of it is. When I say that I have never been all that comfortable with first-person writing, I am mainly talking about first-person news coverage, as opposed to what we do here at GetReligion, which is first-person news criticism.

In other words, I find it much easier to quote other people than to quote myself, especially when it comes time to trust my own memories of news events. It was especially hard, this past week, to try to quote the 20-year-old version of myself, flashing back to events that I witnessed as an undergraduate reporter at The Lariat at Baylor University.

The subject this week: The mind-blowing role that the NoZe Brotherhood has played, and continues to play, in the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky.

There is no need to go into all of the crazy details again. You can, after all, read one or both of the GetReligion posts that I have written on the topic, so far.

I finally decided to try to turn out a Scripps Howard News Service piece on the topic, which required the use of first-person voice. That was the subject of this week’s GetReligion “Crossroads” podcast. Click here to listen to that on your computer or download it to play on a mobile device.

The hard part was when my mind started playing tricks on me. You see, I was not a NoZe Brother, but I have known a few. I also attended quite a few events involving national-level news makers that were crashed by the NoZe crew. I mean, there are some very famous Ornery members of the NoZe Brothers. The Wikipedia page for this secret society of misfits names quite a few. Check it out.

My personal favorites are:

* Bill Cosby — “Bro. J-E-L-L-NoZe.”

* Billy Graham — “Bro. Cracker NoZe Graham.”

* Bob Hope — “Bro. SkiNoZe Hope.”

* Dan Rather — “Bro. CBS Evening NoZe.”

The one that threw me off was “Bro. Water NoZe Jaworski,” the title given to the final special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal.

Jaworski was a prominent Baylor alum. One of the funniest NoZe events that I witnessed was the Homecoming parade in which Jaworski was Grand Marshall, only days after the Saturday Night legal massacre that led to his appointment. With national television crews on hand to capture remarks from Jaworski, a NoZe Brother (complete with the classic fake nose, glasses, big wig and trench coat that implied indecent exposure could happen at any moment) walked silently in front of the new Beltway big gun’s limousine carrying a sign that said, “Clap if you think he is guilty.”

“He,” of course, was President Richard Nixon.

Baylor was already far into its transition from being a largely middle-class campus from old-fashioned Southern Democrat homes into a richer campus packed with suburban Republicans. Obviously, most of the parents and alumni felt that they needed to clap for Jaworski, but how could they do that without being filmed clapping to impeach Nixon?

It was a classic NoZe moment. Jaworski gamely played along, as he later became on honorary NoZe. Was he already a NoZe from his college days? Nobody NoZe or, at least, no one has spoken out.

In my memory, I was pretty sure that the NoZe had pinned the “Water Noze” title on Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, who lectured on campus (In the Q&A time I asked him to rank his favorite “Deep Throat” theories, since he could not ID the source on his own, of course) as part of the hubbub before and after the release of “All the President’s Men” (the book, at that stage). However, in my column research I found that there are multiple references online that pinned that title on Jaworski. Thus, I can only assume that some similar title went to Woodward, when the brothers “honored” him that night in Waco Hall.

What was that title? Is there anyone out there in post-Baylor land who remembers? Help this aging scribe out, please.

By the time I wrote the final version of the Scripps Howard piece to post on my own home page, I had decided to go with this more careful wording for the key sentence:

I was present when Woodward was made an honorary member — Brother Water NoZe, or a variation on that theme — when the NoZe crashed his lecture, presenting him with his own plunger, while seated on a rolling commode.

Sigh. Enjoy the podcast, I guess. I really don’t feel comfortable with my own first-person writing, when it comes time to try to write about news events.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.


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